Detroit – Phil Mickelson sparked a buzz at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, fluttering about his plans to return, and Bryson DeShambeau left unresolved questions about parting with his caddy.
On a packed leaderboard, Joaquin Niemann and Tom Lewis went about their business quietly to tied for the top spot ahead of the weekend at Detroit Golf Club.
On Friday, Niemann and Lewis hit 3-under 69 and 10-under 134, each completing 36 holes without a scarecrow. Troy Merritt (68), Chris Kirk (68) and Max Homa (65) hit back.
Round one leader Davis Thompson was one of eight players two strikes back. Thompson, 22, had over 73, a day after Detroit Golf Club’s record coincided with 63.
Two years ago, Niemann became the first player from Chile to win the PGA Tour with a six-hit win at The Greenbrier. Lewis, who is from England, is aiming for his first PGA Tour win.
“I have obviously won most of the tours around the world and this is obviously the most difficult tour to participate and win, but I am far from that,” Lewis said. “If I can, that’s great. My time will come when I’m ready. “
Lewis drew Neumann on his 13th hole on Friday with a 22-foot shot that went up and down the slope on the wavy green.
The wind increased significantly during the second round, with gusts of up to 25 mph that knocked heads off their feet and made the relatively short and easy route more challenging.
DeChambaut expressed frustration with the unpredictable wind and erratic play throughout the round.
“I hate golf,” DeShambeau said after dropping his disc into a lawn bunker on the 147-yard fifth hole.
The sixth-placed player in the world ended up missing out on a cut to 1 – under 143, after a 72nd opening round from 71.
DeShambaut, who has an agreement with Rocket Mortgage, turned down interview requests for the second day in a row. His silence left unanswered questions about why he broke up with Caddy Tim Tucker on the eve of the tournament.
The surprise split with Tucker also gave Brooks Koepke more opportunities to jab on social media, announcing Thursday on Twitter as a “Caddy’s Appreciation Day.”
Almost two weeks ago, the 2020 US Open champion went from leading the same nine-hole tournament to 26th place with a collapse. Despite playing in dim fields, DeShambeau finished 19th in the Travelers Championship last week and failed to make it to Detroit.
Mickelson shot 72 after opening with 69, making a 3-under 141 cut and changed his mind about returning to play for Motown.
On Thursday, the PGA Championship winner said he would not be returning due to a Detroit News report earlier this week. The newspaper received a 2007 federal court transcript detailing how a Michigan bookie was charged with defrauding Mickelson for $ 500,000 about 20 years ago.
After speaking with Rocket Mortgage Classic officials in the morning and a storm of fan support in the afternoon, Mickelson told reporters he was ready to return to play at the Detroit Golf Club.
“There is a guy named Mike Sullivan who is trying to collect 50,000 signatures,” Mickelson said. “If he dials 50,000 and all those 50,000 agree to do a random act of kindness for another member of the community, I’m in business.”
Patrick Read, who was one of only two top 10 players, also found himself on the verge of being cut 3 fewer after rounds 69 and 72.
Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was pulled out of competition on Friday after testing positive for COVID-19. The PGA Tour does not test fully vaccinated players.
At least 35 players were forced to withdraw due to a positive test result, and Matsuyama became the fifth player in the middle of the tournament since the start of the testing program last June. The last PGA Tour event to test outside of the Majors will be the Barbasol Championship July 15-18.